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10 Easy Pieces: The Best Espresso Machines


10 Easy Pieces: The Best Espresso Machines

December 4, 2019

Buying an espresso machine (and we mean a real, shot-pulling espresso machine) can take months of research and sourcing before committing. A good machine doesn’t come on the cheap, but if you add up those $4.95 lattes, the investment pays off in just a few months. There’s always the easy route of coffee pods and push-button machines or the stovetop Bialetti, but when you’re ready to graduate to the big time, here’s a list of can’t-go-wrong classic machines.

We’ve polled our own group and cross-checked our picks with reviews from New York Magazine, Business Insider, and Gear Patrol for the ultimate list. But first, a quick glossary of terms to know:

Manual espresso machines are more complicated and require users to manually push water through the coffee rather than maintaining consisting pressure on their own.

Semi-Automatic machines are more common, with the 1938-introduced electric pump for consistent water pressure that can be turned on or off by the user. Boiler temperature controls are automated on these machines.

Fully-Automatic machines have all the features of a semi-automatic maker but will also electronically regulate the amount of water passing through the espresso.

A PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) in an espresso maker is essentially an integrated algorithm to monitor temperature stability and control for consistent espresso shots. Unless you are prepared to monitor those temperature levels perfectly yourself, finding an espresso machine with a PID is worth the added cost.

the quick mill alexia evo espresso machine is a semi automatic lever action sin 17
Above: The Quick Mill Alexia EVO Espresso Machine is a semi-automatic lever action single-boiler espresso machine features a PID to stabilize temperature; $1,395 at 1st in Coffee.
the bezzera bz\13 automatic with pid (formerly the pasquini livia g4 machine) i 18
Above: The Bezzera BZ13 Automatic with PID (formerly the Pasquini Livia G4 machine) is a semi-professional machine in polished stainless steel for $1,799.
the m&v vesuvius dual boiler espresso machine features a touchscreen pid wi 19
Above: The M&V Vesuvius Dual Boiler Espresso Machine features a touchscreen PID with 5 preset pressure profiles and can toggle between an inset water reservoir and direct plumbing; $4,495 at Majesty Coffee.
the ascaso dream espresso machine features a vintage design and solid aluminum  20
Above: The Ascaso Dream Espresso Machine features a vintage design and solid aluminum case. It’s made with an oversized thermoblock to offer stable thermal mass. It’s $599 at Seattle Coffee Gear.
a scandi version of an automatic italian style espresso machine, the sjöst 21
Above: A Scandi version of an automatic Italian-style espresso machine, the Sjöstrand Coffee Espresso Maker Capsule has a high-pressure pump at 19 bar. The machine fills a cup in 25 to 30 seconds, the ideal extraction time for an espresso shot; 2,995 SEK ($314 USD) at Artilleriet.
another model from bezerra (formerly pasquini), the unica espresso machine with 22
Above: Another model from Bezerra (formerly Pasquini), the Unica Espresso Machine with Wood Accents is a small single boiler PID espresso machine that features a 3-way solenoid valve, a vibration pump, and the iconic E61 group head made of chrome-plated brass; $1,437 at Whole Latte Love.
the elektra micro casa model chrome espresso machine (art.s\1c) has the same or 23
Above: The Elektra Micro Casa Model Chrome Espresso Machine (ART.S1C) has the same original design from the 1980s and works by way of a single coiled heating element to heat water to 0.9 bars. The downside? The machine, as Gear Patrol notes, takes 10-12 minutes to heat fully and is prone to mineral buildup. The Elektra is $1,695 at Majesty Coffee. For more on its history see our post Appliances: Elektra Micro Casa Lever Espresso Machine.
the faema carisma espresso machine has a copper boiler that has been finished i 24
Above: The Faema Carisma Espresso Machine has a copper boiler that has been finished in Tuveco Teck to filter the amount of metal from water. It also has an LCD screen displaying pump pressure and information on emptying the drip tray; $1,849.99 at Espresso Outlet.
the breville barista express espresso machine is a professional style semi auto 25
Above: The Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is a professional-style semi-automatic espresso machine with a built-in customizable grinder and steamer, a charcoal filter for water, and integrated cup-warming tray; $488.96-$579.96 in silver or black at Sur la Table.
the rancillo silvia v3 espresso machine is a semi automatic espresso machine wi 26
Above: The Rancillo Silvia V3 Espresso Machine is a semi-automatic espresso machine with brass fixtures and three thermostats to monitor temperature. It does also have an optional pod and capsule adaptor kit. But Gear Patrol notes that without the kit, beans need to be ground properly in an espresso grinder: “Silvia is sensitive.” The machine is $715 on Amazon.
the la marzocco linea mini espresso machine features a pid controlled double bo 27
Above: The La Marzocco Linea Mini Espresso Machine features a PID-controlled double boiler and a commercial-grade steam valve. It does come pre-programmed (and cannot be changed) with a 1 second pre-infusion mode for optimal coffee extraction; $4,600 at La Marzocco.
the rocket espresso giotto evoluzione r58 dual boiler espresso machine has, as  28
Above: The Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione R58 Dual Boiler Espresso Machine has, as the name suggests, two PID-temperature-controlled copper boilers for consistent brewing and an especially quiet rotary pump. It’s a classic Milanese style espresso maker, still made in Milan today, with a dual pre-infusion system; $3,000 at Whole Latte Love.

Shopping for more kitchen appliances? See our posts:

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